Google forced to add steering wheels
to driverless car designs


Google self-driving car

News: the California department of motor vehicles has introduced new road safety rules, requiring all vehicles on its roads to have a steering wheel and brake pedal – including Google's fleet of driverless cars.

Google will have to fit manual control devices to each of the cars in its test fleet of driverless vehicles before it can take them onto public roads in the tech giant's home state.

Google unveiled its latest prototype for a button operated car in May this year, with a movie showing members of the public test driving one of the vehicles. The company said it would create a fleet of around 100 cars to test on the roads near its headquarters in Mountain View, California.

But California's DMV has now announced new rules that will come into effect in mid-September, that say a driver must be able to take "immediate physical control" of a vehicle on public roads – meaning it has to have a steering wheel and brake and accelerator pads.

Google told the Wall Street Journal that it would comply with the rule by adding temporary devices, including a pedal system.

"With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary," said Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne.

The company's prototype cars had in-built sensors designed to detect objects up to two football-field lengths away in all directions, were operated with the push of a button and had a speed cap of 25 miles per hour.

But one of Google's lead software engineers on the project revealed this week that the cars were now being programmed to exceed speed limits by up to 10 miles per hour.

Dmitri Dolgov told news agency Reuters that research had shown that it was safer to allow the cars to accelerate to keep up if surrounded by other vehicles that were speeding.

  • Cool looking ride! This is really awesome, people who love to text while driving can enjoy their favorite hobby if they have a car like this one. A car like this would bring so much ease in anyone’s life, especially for people with disabilities or the elderly. Imagine how traveling would be less stressful for them in these cars.

    It does give me the impression of a modern looking golf cart – compact and sleek. Any golfer would appreciate having to get around a course without having to drive himself around, not that most of them do since a caddy probably does it for them anyway.

  • Bebe Glazer

    That’s a shame, you would think there is a backup system in there in case of a failure and that the AI in there would be a lot more reliable than a human. I don’t want to drive, I want to be driven… in a nicer looking vehicle of course not something Tinky Winky would use in their daily commute!

    • nlpnt

      I’m thinking just the opposite. I’d buy that car tomorrow IF they stripped that ridiculous contraption off the roof and put in manual EVERYTHING (stick shift, un-boosted steering and brakes, heck even crank windows). Oh, and thinned out the A-pillars.

  • Drive

    Read the last paragraph all you stupid self-righteous people who insist on driving the speed limit when EVERYONE else is driving faster. You are being unsafe!

  • Vince

    Maybe it’s not the ideal design by Google standards, but it would be handy if the system failed, and after the last couple of Google Mail crashes I think I would insist on a manual backup.

  • aksel hjerpbakk


  • WolfgangDS

    I’m almost certainly not worried about Google’s programming skills when it comes to these cars. They’ve only had two accidents in all of their tests (that I know of), and both of those were the fault of human drivers, not the car.

    That said, there are some exceptionally STUPID people on the road – and how they acquired a license baffles me – so I’m genuinely surprised that manual controls are being added instead of being a default thing prior to this rule change.

  • bannedforselfcensorship

    Time to move the testing to another state.

  • Don Cuddihee

    This is stupid. Adding the option for human interference will just make the driving experience less safe for the driver and others on the road.

  • CarptonCod

    Don’t blame the user. They are following the documentation correctly.

    The real problem is that the speed limits are often too slow.

    The speed limits are there to give you a reasonable speed to drive at. It’s the right thing to follow them in theory. But in reality they sometimes give bad/unsafe advice, so you should go faster.

    Don’t get angry at people who follow the rules, get angry at the people who make bad rules.

  • Vinven

    I think they would take more care with something that has peoples lives at stake. I guarantee you that 100% of the accidents with these cars will be during manual control.

  • VonFlex

    Google mail has never crashed and lost user emails.